Musings from beyond the boundary – 30 April

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

A week ago I rued the fact that some of the Aucklanders involved in the IPL had made a quiet start to their campaigns – things have changed somewhat since then!

First to hit the headlines was Colin de Grandhomme.  While he failed to score in Kolkata Knight Riders’ innings of 131, he played a key part in dismissing the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore XI in 9.4 overs, for just 49. Not only was this the lowest score ever in the IPL, it was the second-shortest T20 innings on record (after the 8.4 over 42 scored by a Bangladesh domestic side in 2013), and this from a batting line-up boasting Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in its top four.

De Grandhomme’s contribution was 3 wickets for four runs, from just 1.4 overs.

A few days later it was Lockie Ferguson’s turn, and again Royal Challengers Bangalore were the victims as Ferguson returned the third most economical 4-over spell in IPL history: 4-1-7-2. Those two wickets were AB de Villiers and Indian international Stuart Binny, as this time Royal Challengers Bangalore slumped to 96/9 in their 20 overs. Ferguson, in only his second IPL match, bowled 18 dot balls, the highest number in this year’s competition.

Incidentally, the bowlers to have bettered Ferguson’s economy rate previously in the IPL are Fidel Edwards and Ashish Nehra, both of whom conceded 6 runs in their four overs, but without taking two wickets. In 2011, India’s Rahul Sharma took 2/7 as well, but without including a maiden over in the mix.

A welcome sight this week was Martin Guptill’s long-awaited return to the crease for Kings XI Punjab, starting with an 11-ball 23, including four boundaries and a six. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough to save his side from defeat against a rampaging Sunrisers Hyderabad who had scored 207/3 in their twenty overs.  Dave Warner had made 51 off 27 balls, sharing a 107-run opening partnership with Shikhar Dhawan who ended with 77 from 48 balls, but they were both upstaged by Kane Williamson whose 54 not out came at a strike rate of 200. For good measure he added another couple of sixes to that burgeoning IPL tally.

It’ been a quiet week for the other New Zealanders in the IPL, although Brendon McCullum celebrated his 100th IPL engagement as his Gujarat Lions inflicted another defeat on the struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore, who have lost badly three times in the past week. McCullum took 6 balls and 19 minutes to score just 3 runs, but he celebrated his century of appearances with a nonchalant boundary catch to dismiss Sreenath Aravind. As with so much of what McCullum does, it was another display of making the unlikely seem easy.

Back home, the New Zealand squad for the Champions Trophy has been named and congratulations are due to Mitch McClenaghan, back in the frame after last summer’s struggles with injury.  He joins Martin Guptill and Colin de Grandhomme as the Auckland representatives in the squad.

Somewhat surprisingly there was no room for Colin Munro in the 15-man party – Munro is in the team touring Ireland before the New Zealand IPL players return for the Champions Trophy and he’ll be very keen to make a point in those matches against the hosts and Bangladesh. George Worker is another who will feel he has something to prove in that tri-series, and watching these two trying to replicate their domestic success will be a treat for us back home.

Finally this week, some more from the 2017 Wisden India Almanack.  Over recent years the Almanack has developed a formula for assessing the international players whose performances in the previous twelve months have had the most impact in the context of the game and the series in which they played. Essentially each player’s performance is measured relative to other performances in the same match, with the state of the match and the series also weighing in.

For the twelve months to 30 September 2016, New Zealand players figure rather well. Amongst test match bowlers, Neil Wagner is rated third equal with Rangana Herath, behind just Ravi Ashwin and Mitchell Starc. Incidentally, through the year in question Wagner had the fourth best test bowling average amongst those who played at least six tests, headed only by Ashwin, Starc and England’s James Anderson.

On the test batting chart, Kane Williamson came in 6th in terms of impact, above Steve Smith and Alastair Cook.

No surprise that the number one batsman for impact in ODI matches was Martin Guptill, a long way ahead of second-ranked AB de Villiers. And it was a Kiwi double, with Matt Henry the highest impact ODI bowler. Henry’s performance has probably slipped below the radar, but amongst qualifying bowlers in the year to last September (minimum 8 matches) he had the best bowling average, the best strike-rate and the highest proportion of top/middle order wickets. He also returned the highest economy impact.

In T20 Internationals, the New Zealanders dominate the batting chart, with Guptill, Munro and Williamson ranked second, third and fourth respectively (Virat Kohli tops that table), while Mitchell Santner is the third-ranked bowler, behind fellow spinners Imran Tahir and Samuel Badree.